Living in Oblivion

Day 21 – 23: A Dubious Detour

It’s a very pensive and moody Nondrick P. Cairk’tir who awakens next to his bed in the Wawnet Inn this morning. I’m feeling a bit conflicted about a few things.

First, Chorrol. I have to admit, I didn’t really spend much time there. Part of my goal is to find a home, which, granted, I wouldn’t be able to do in Chorrol, but regardless, I didn’t really give the town its due. I didn’t explore it much or really make an effort to get to know the residents, which is part of the purpose of playing the game like this in the first place. I’ve been a bit too driven toward making money and visiting Imperial City, and so I think I left Chorrol behind a little too early.

Which is why, on my mind this morning, is another city not far from here: Bruma.

Bruma, crouching in the mountains to the north, is a cold, snowy city, and one I’m frankly not overly fond of. Still, Nondrick is a Nord and thus Bruma is his homeland. I know when I enter Imperial City, with all its distractions, it’s going to be hard to leave. I think perhaps I should visit Bruma first.

It’s a tough decision. Extremely tough. Imperial City is a two-minute walk from here and Bruma is a two-day hike, at least, through a barren, frosty landscape. I hate to put Imperial City in my rearview, but I feel obligated to. Besides, I wanted to stroll into Imperial City a success, and while I’m doing pretty well for myself as of late, I’m still not much of an alchemist. I’m not much of anything.

I sullenly sell my hedge clippings to the innkeeper, buy up all of her cheap groceries, mash them into mush in a bowl, and sell them back. I’m up to almost 1200 septims.

Then, reluctantly, I walk north, leaving Imperial City behind.

Sigh. Well, what’s another week, really.

Just up the road I spot a traveler headed in the other direction.

I stop for a moment. Something seems a bit odd about this fellow. I thought at first that he was an Imperial Woodsman, what with the uniform and bow, but that’s not a Legion uniform. Who is this guy? I catch him up and have a chat.

Turns out he’s the Countess’ Bodyguard. The Countess of Leyawiin. Which is hella far south of here. What the heck is he doing way up near Imperial City? As a bodyguard, what the heck is he doing more than two feet from the Countess? Strange. Must be a bug.

The north road turns east, the weather turns gray, and a wolf turns into a dead wolf. A strange wolf at that: he’s not carrying any gold or silverware. Strange. Must be a bug. Nice view up here, though.

I happen upon a small town called Aleswell where neither ale, nor all, is well. The entire populace appears to be… well, quite frankly, they don’t appear at all. They’re invisible.

They relate to me a tale of a wizard who lives nearby, who turned the entire population see-through, and beg for my assistance in releasing them from the curse. Yeah, see, I’m not really into that scene.

As I leave Aleswell, hunger suddenly strikes me. Oops. I forgot to eat today. Not only that, I used all my existing food to make junky potions to sell to the innkeeper. Well, I’ll just push on.

It’s already dark by the time I reach the north fork that will eventually lead me to Bruma. I spot a wolf in the road, which I eventually determine to be a dog, not a wolf, and dogs have owners. This isn’t always a problem, but out in the wild, a dog owner is usually a bandit. On the plus side, a bandit in the wild usually has a bedroll, so I might have a night’s sleep for the low low price of killing a man. And his dog.

Just then, my hunger pains increase. My health begins to drain. Then my agility. Followed by my speed, endurance, fatigue, willpower, and strength. This isn’t good. These are the hunger effects from the mod I installed. If I head to the bandit camp, I’ll have to fight the dog and the bandit with my attributes reduced. The bandit may have food, he may not. He may also have buddies. I shouldn’t be looking for a fight in any case, really, but especially not when I’m in such poor shape.

Backtracking to the Wawnet Inn will take the rest of the night, and I can’t stay in Aleswell because the invisible jerks won’t rent me a room unless I cure their invisibility. Shit. I’m stuck.

My hemming and hawing pay off, however, as I see some distant torchlight approaching from the west. Imperial Guard, on horseback. Saved again!

The dog, showing no more smarts than your average wolf, charges, and the soldier makes short work of him while I watch. The dog’s owner appears, a marauder archer, and begins loosing arrows at the guard. Undeterred, the soldier corners him and makes short work of the lawbreaker, while I pitch in with one or two very carefully placed arrowshots. The last thing I want to do is hit the soldier.

I strip the dead marauder, and the soldier, not satisfied with my post mortem, conducts his own examination of the dead man’s junk. Nothing’s moving.

The bandit was camped at some ruins named Sercen, and poking around in some sacks and barrels, I find enough food to return my attributes to normal. There are also a couple bedrolls, and hoping more bad guys don’t show up during the night, I settle down for a few hours’ sleep.

In the morning, I’m headed north. I kill a few poverty-stricken wolves and a rat as Imperial City slowly recedes behind me. I wander off the road left and right to pick ingredients, but I don’t find a whole lot, and with the steepness of the landscape, I tend to find a lot of unclimbable hills and dangerous looking cliff edges, and wind up having to double back to the road. I do that whole thing where you think you can climb the hill, then you’re walking in place, then you jump around a lot trying to move forward, then you slide backwards, then you come very close to jumping right off a ledge and dying, thus ending your blog in a very stupid way.

I think this trip to Bruma might wind up taking longer than I already thought it would.

It’s mid-afternoon when I find myself peering down at a small settlement. My keen senses deduce it’s Bleaker’s Way. Nice town, as it turns out. Nothing horrible happening here. At least, not at the moment. I even find a free bed in the attic of one of the houses.

Another boring day of trudging uphill awaits me the next morning. You know what? This trip sucks. Nothing is happening, and while I’m generally a big fan of nothing happening, nothing is happening. I regret not just going to Imperial City when I had the chance. And just think, I get to walk all the way back down this stupid trail in a couple of days. I slay a wolf with two gold pieces, and another carrying nothing around but a few bucketfuls of its own blood. Man. Even wantonly murdering animals doesn’t cheer me up.

The landscape turns snowy and I find a strange rock that I decide to touch. It gives me a demonic glove and an eensy evil dagger that I am unable to put to any real use. I’d feel like a tool killing anything with this anyway. It looks like something you’d find sticking out of a club sandwich. Everything sucks up north. Even the interdimensional enchanted weapons.

Amazingly, it’s nighttime again when I finally reach Bruma. Jeez, three entire days to get up here. I got some gathering done, and I’ve got a pocketful of pelts to sell, but what a terrible trip. I head straight for Olav’s Tap and Tack, a dingy inn near the main gate, sell my wares to Olav, and start chatting up the locals.

Ongar the World Weary informs me without prompting that no way is he some sort of shady merchant! Definitely not! Then he proceeds to demonstrate just how unconnected to the Thieves Guild he is by dropping into a crouch and pickpocketing everyone in the room. He’s terrible at it, gets caught, the alarm is raised, a city guard runs in then immediately exits. This happens about five times. Bruma, City of Glitches!

Well, there better be more of interest here than incompetent Thieves Guild fences and snow. It took me three days to get here, and, quite honestly, I’m already ready to leave.

Living in Oblivion

Day 19 & 20: Fortitude

It’s Turdas morning, Heartfire 13 — man, is it Heartfire 13 already? I’m still writing Heartfire 12 on all my chequetims.

Anyway, I’m up around nine and headed to Fire & Steel to sell the armor and weapons I took off of two dead she-bandits the night before. My own fur armor is in extremely bad shape after being set on fire and electrocuted, so I wind up selling some of the armor I’m wearing and keeping the some of the less battered bandit bits for myself. I also have my weapons repaired and then step back outside into the fresh morning air.

Hm. Is the fresh morning air a little chillier than it was a few minutes ago? Oh. Oh, right.

I forgot than when selling the armor off your back, it’s a good idea to then equip the armor you’re replacing it with. My bad! Sorry, citizens of Chorrol.

It’s a little weird for Nondrick to be so buff, considering what a dork he is. Clearly, all those women he’s been killing have done wonders for his abs. I quickly put on my humble alchemist clothes and head over to the Mage’s Guild. Time to do some grinding. There I meet this intriguing mage. (Notice yet another baldie in the background.)

Woman Gone Wild! I’m actually a big fan of the book. These shady oil painters travel around the coasts of Cyrodiil, getting young, mead-filled maidens to spend a few hours undoing the complicated ties and straps of their undergarments, and then painting portraits of them in the buff. The paintings are meticulously duplicated into smaller versions and then distributed to young males for a reasonable price. My favorite series is Woman Gone Wild, Volume Six: Blotto in Bravil.

Did I beat that joke into the ground enough? Good. Good.

I do my alchemy grind with the counter jockey at the Mage’s Guild, selling my collected haul, buying cheap ingredients, mixing weak, flimsy potions, and selling them back. When I’m done, I’m sitting pretty at 578 septims. Not bad, but it’s no time to rest on my laurels: it’s time to go gather some.

I head east, pickin’ as I go. It’s an extremely uneventful morning, uninterrupted by even a single wolf or rat attack, though I spy a winged imp far off in the trees and give him a wide birth. Eventually, I come upon this welcome sight.

I’ll be honest — walking everywhere and never fast-traveling isn’t… easy. The click of my mouse could instantly transport me to any city in the game. Sprinting would decimate my lengthy travel time. There are long stretches, like today, where I’m not attacked, there are few ingredients to pick, and not much of anything interesting to look at, and I think, man, why the hell am I playing like this?

But at moments like this it somehow feels worth it. In other playings of this game I’ve spent days, weeks even, in Imperial City. I know it inside and out. I barely even look at the city, I just zip there, run to the merchants, unload my junk, and dematerialize to my next location. But playing as Nondrick has restored a good deal of majesty and mystery on Imperial City, and catching a glimpse of it through the trees, seeing it grow closer and larger each time, is a bit of a thrill.

I continue to wander. An imp makes his intentions known, and is hacked out of the air with none of the drama of the last two. Night begins to settle in for the evening, and I realize I’ve wandered pretty far east. Luckily, the road isn’t far north, and luckily again, I find an Imperial solider on horseback is headed in my direction. I walk with him, scurrying off the road here and there to pick ingredients, then hustling back to stump along in the safety of his torchlight. It’s a long, slow trip but I gather a nice collection along the way.

A wolf springs out of the darkness and I don’t even ready a weapon, as the soldier slides off his mount and cuts it down — the wolf, not his horse — leaving me to cut the steaming pelt off its hide. A little further up the road I find a dead Khajiit bandit, perhaps slain by my soldier on his trip down the road earlier. That means free armor for me, though I can’t find his weapon anywhere.

It’s quite late by the time I make it back to Chorrol. I hit up the Mages Guild and the clerks at both inns, selling my haul and grinding out some potions, before stumbling into bed.

My total cash is now up to 926. It seemed an uneventful day, but I almost doubled my money.

I don’t sleep more than a few hours — I’m tired of running out of sunlight and trudging home in the dark — and I bust out early. Heading straight along the road before dawn, past Odiil Farm, pushing east. I reach Fort Ash, which actually straddles the road. I’m met by it’s apparent keeper, a Khajiit highwayman.

As it turns out, I’m really not in the mood to do either. Have at thee, foul cur!

It’s a pitched battle. He’s hampered by the fact that his weapon is two-handed, meaning he telegraphs his attacks and can’t block my blows effectively, and I’m slowed down by the fact that I have to fight in third-person perspective to take these pictures.

Hoping to build up my fighting skills a bit, I refrain from casting spells and just hack at him, blocking when he lunges, swinging when he pauses, and eventually he goes down.

Owie. He really did a number on me. I heal up with Mara’s Gift, then decide to check out the bandit’s crib. Hopefully, he’s got a bedroll I can use — I’m always on the lookout for somewhere I can sleep for free between cities.

Fort Ash has an underground interior, but I’m staying away from that in case it’s full of bandits. I’m all for exploring the crumbling exterior levels, though.

As I climb to the second floor, my spidey-sense goes off: Imp. He’s dispatched with a few arrows and a couple slashes of my sword.

There are some barrels scattered around the second floor of the fort, and I grab an apple from one and a stone cup (to go along with my Adventurer’s Dishware set) from another. Lying on the stone surface I find a Potion of Detect Life, worth 45 gp. Nice! I also find a dead goblin and swipe his rusty iron mace. Looks like there were some tenants here before the Khajiit moved in.

In an unlocked chest I find some iron arrows, and next to it, on a step, a small pile of gems. Oh, I’ll be taking those as well. A topaz, a ruby, and an emerald, the last worth 20 bucks. This is turning into a small, poorly funded gold mine.

On the next level up, another dead goblin is relieved of his sword. I find some more ingredients in a couple barrels and a few bottles of mead, plus four GP in small sack. A skeleton lying next to a chest gives up some bonemeal and — yes! Another pewter fork!

I can’t wait to eat with it. The chest itself holds a silver pitcher, which will also someday find a place of honor on my dinner table. Now if I could just find a dinner table.

A surprising amount of loot. I’m glad it was all outside — I never would have poked around indoors to find it — and I stroll away from Fort Ash with my pockets jingling. I feel a little guilty, because it sort of seems like adventuring, this killing and then plundering, not the sort of thing a soft-headed alchemy major should be engaging in.

Luckily, those thoughts are quickly erased when I come upon this sight.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Hmm. I think, um… I think I ain’t going back to Chorrol. Yeah, I ain’t. I can’t. There’s no way I can turn my back on this view. No way.

It’s getting dark as I press on. I slay an enraged rat who owns a lockpick, and fight off an Imp who flings frost spells at me. It’s pitch black when I reach the doors of the Wawnet Inn, just across the bridge from Imperial City.

The innkeeper has a room for 10 gold, quite affordable for the suburbs. As I head up to my room I encounter a man sitting on the staircase. He’s a salesman, as it turns out, or, more specifically a buysman, as don’t purchase anything but instead unload upon him all the crap I’ve got clogging up my pockets. And, when our transactions have been completed:

Not bad at all. For the first time, I’m in four figures. And I’m on the doorstep of Imperial City. Everything’s comin’ up Nondrick.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 18: Close Calls and Waterfalls

I awake, feeling stronger, smarter, and even more charismatic than ever.It’s my first day as a Level Three Administrative Alchemist!Time to facilitate the strategic acquisition of salable assets!

As if in recognition of my sudden gain in power, the world outside the gate of Chorrol greets me with a mouthful of wolf teeth.I don’t know what the deal is with the wolves in Cyrodiil. They don’t seem hungry, just angry. They’ll run right past a soft, tasty deer to bite into a legion soldier dressed in spiked plate armor, or, in this case, a botanist dressed in hair.

But hey, I’m not sweating it. I’m level three. I use my newly enhanced intelligence to determine the wolf’s every move (it has one move:  to bite me) and every weak point (its weak point is its body) and my increased personality skills to sprinkle the battle with witty comments (such as Yahhh! and Whulhuh!), and in a moment, thanks to my newly increased strength, the wolf is dead.Yeah.I’m pretty much a badass.

‘Then it’s back to my main chore, pickin’ flowers, which is not so badass.Still, there’s some good pickin’ in these thar woods. I figure I’ll make a big loop, heading north, then west, then south,and end up by the gate on the other side of the city at the end of the day.

Other than a rat attack, nothing really happens for a while, other than the always exciting and volatile act of pulling plants out of the ground and stuffing them into my, well, whatever it is I carry all my stuff around in.Then I come upon this scene:

Look, I’m not the adventurous type, really, I’m not, but it’s a door under a waterfall.It’s a freakin’ door under a waterfall.I’m pretty sure anyone, anywhere, upon discovering a door under a waterfall is obligated by natural law to have a peek inside it.

I have a peek.It’s a bandit hideout.Time to exit, cave left. I know I was just crowing about being leveling up my strength, but I leveled up my cowardice as well.

I step back outside and am suddenly set on fire.Ouch.

An imp is flapping toward me, flinging fireballs every few seconds.I somehow hadn’t noticed that the soothing music that always plays in my head had turned dark and ominous, a sure sign I’m in danger.I dodge the next blast but am hit again.Fur armor and fireballs probably don’t mix very well.

I keep a large tree between us, periodically popping out to hurl arrows at it.Eventually, it tires of the ranged combat andcloses the distance, at which point I hack it out of the air.

Hey, I had a pretty nice shot there. Right in the imp noggin.

To celebrate, I strike a heroic pose on top of the waterfall, just in case someone is taking pictures.Luckily, someone is.

At the foot of the waterfall I find one of Oblivion’s little treats:a forgotten treasure chest.It’s always fun stumbling across something like this.I kind of wish every time you did, an e-mail got sent to the person at Bethesda who stashed it here, just so they know you found it.

This chest has 8 gold pieces and a crystal ball worth 5 bucks.When you’re playing Oblivion, really playing, I mean, this sort of treasure is a huge letdown.When you’re playing as a humble root merchant, as I am, this is awesome.It’s free money and a trinket to hold onto until I have a mantle to place it on.I’m happy as an imp slathered in gall.

After I wade out of the water, probably smelling like wet, burned hair, a wolf greets me, a wolf with a very nice pelt and a little hidden treasure of its own: two gold pieces.

Hm. Maybe he was saving up for a place of his own, too.

A little further north I come across Nonwyll Cavern, and, hoping to find some mushrooms I carefully venture inside.Crabwalking, my sneak skill goes up about 700 times in the space of four seconds.Something is in the cave.Something very, very close by.I scuttle back out.

Once outside, I am immediately struck by lightning. Ouch.

Not from the sky, from some angry god, but from another leathery winged imp.He blasts me again, and again, as I desperately switch to my bow to try to take him down.I miss a few times and he flaps over to melee range.I switch to my sword and shield but as I swing to hit him he gets me with another shot.

An alarming message appears, one I haven’t seen yet. Looks like, 18 days after starting it, I’ve finally finished the tutorial.

That ain’t good.No reloads with our boy Nondrick here.It’s kill or die.

Cleverly, I choose kill.But still, a close call, the closest I’ve had.These beasts are getting stronger. I’ve really got to start being more careful, and I’ve got to put some thought into becoming a better, stronger fighter.My chosen trade takes me into danger often enough that I’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.

I use my Mara’s Gift spell to heal all my wounds. I was down to about 1/4th my health.

A few minutes later I kill a rat that owns a knife.Man, soon I’ll have an entire flatware set from items I’ve found inside parasite-ridden animals.And won’t my dinner guests be pleased to hear where I found the utensils they’re eating with?

Nightfall.I’m on my way back to Chorrol.I’m attacked by a female bandit, and then another.The first is a pleasant looking Redguard woman, the second, a female Khajiit. I suppose she’s pleasant looking.I’m not really into cats. In that way.

Both fights go about the same. I backpedal while flinging fireballs at them, they lunge with axe or warhammer, I take a few lumps, they eventually fall before my blade.One the one hand, it’s nice to see a lot of ladies in the bandit trade, a traditionally male-driven occupation. Girl power!

On the other hand, neither of the lovely ladies seem to have been very good at being bandits. Apart from their armor and weapons, they’ve got diddly to show for their efforts. The wolf I killed earlier had more gold than they did.

I head into the city, a bit troubled. In my first couple weeks of being an alchemist I’ve had to kill three or four women. It just seems wrong. Here I am trying to live a mild-mannered life and I’m droppin’ bitches like Nico Bellic.

GTA: Grand Theft Alchemy.

The Demo Man

Infernal: Kicking Ass And Taking Souls

Infernal is an in-your-face demo of a game that’s all about kicking ass! Even the menu screen will kick you in the ass with your own face! In fact, the hero of the demo, the guy you play, is named Jake Asskicker. I know, it sounds like I’m making that up, but I’m not — that’s his actual name. Jake. Asskicker. I am not lying.

[Read more...]

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 17: A Quested Development

Before I leave Weynon Priory, I poke my head into Jauffre‘s office, where he’s reading a book.

Sup, Jauff? To simpler times, my friend. To simpler times.

Actually, these are simpler times, and will remain so. With my lunkhead NPC wandering about refusing to get into adventures, there will be no adventure. Jauffre will be able to live out the remainder of his days in peaceful meditation or reading or whatever the hell he does when he’s not helping adventurers save the world.

In fact, by not beginning the main quest I actually have saved the world. Uriel Septim sits unmolested in Imperial City, and will remain there. The Oblivion Gates will never open. The world will remain in a state of static peace. I’ve saved the world from ending by avoiding the beginning of the end altogether. Nondrick is a hero simply by trying not to be one.

Well, whatevs! It’s time to check out Chorrol!

Chorrol is an brownish town west of Imperial City, its main export being fighters and main import being, apparently, bald dudes.

I should fit right in here.

I’m in the Oak and Crosier, a local inn, with affordable rooms (10 gp). I buy every cheap ingredient the Khajiit barkeep has, and continue my alchemy grind, making crummy potions just for the experience. Just up the road I find a shop called Northern Good and Trade, run by an Argonian, and sell my collected loot, which isn’t really very much except some wolf pelts and a couple pearls. It’s while I’m chatting up the shopkeep that something magical happens — my speechcraft odometer turns over and I’m prepared to gain another level with the coming night’s rest. Gosh! Level three, here I come!

First, though, gotta scope out the local scenery.

Oh, I see what I want, all right. Heh heh heh. Heh. Heh heh.

With that bit of creepery out of the way, I visit the chapel, and eavesdrop on a couple of conversations — one predictably about mudcrabs, and one about goblins, for a change [both YouTube links]. I enjoy how the dude shoots me a look as he shoulders past me in that second clip.

I meet the local beggar, named Lazy, and give him a coin for good karma, then run into an orc on the street named, well, let’s just say Something gro-Somethingelse. Something starts talking about someone named Reynald. Something ran into Reynald in another town, Cheydinhal, but Reynald acted as if he’d never met Something before, apparently, and this is so interesting to Something that, rather than just asking Reynald about it, he’s decided to tell me, a complete stranger, all the details.

And just like that, the game gives me a quest just for listening to Something’s boring blather. Great. Looks like Chorrol is just like every other town, just packed to the rafters with intrigue.

Maybe I’m taking the wrong approach. Maybe instead of starting off with Nondrick and having him avoid all the quests, I should have one character go through the entire game and complete every single quest possible, and then somehow load up Nondrick in that world, a world where all the adventure has been exhausted. Though that in itself sounds exhausting.

For now, I keep wandering around. I get my armor and weapons repaired, chat with some more locals, and wind up at The Grey Mare, a dive bar and inn. I walk around, talking to the various patrons.

And then. Something terrible happens. Something truly awful. Something that every NPC knows about but never thinks will happen to them.

There’s a man sitting in the corner, drinking, and I walk over to him before I realize who he is. He’s Reynald, the guy Something gro-Somethingelse was talking about. I talk to him.

I just talk. Nothing else. I don’t lead him on or tease him or anything. I don’t act like I’m looking for adventure. This is not my fault. Do you understand me? I did nothing wrong. I did nothing no other NPC wouldn’t have done in my place.

Still, unknowingly, just by speaking to this man, I’ve… I’ve updated the quest I didn’t even want to accept in the first place, the quest the orc gave me.

I can do nothing as this drunkard spills his story and then forces — forces – fifty gold into my inventory.

I feel so violated. I’ve been quest-molested. I’ve been quolested.

Now, I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want to go on this quest, I want to pick herbs and mix them with bread and cheese. But I’ve been forcibly paid already — am I now obligated to at least see it through? I can’t give the money back. I can’t reload a previous save, because it’s against my rules and plus I honestly can’t remember the last time I saved the game. I’m screwed.

Here are my options, as I see them.

1) Forget it. I didn’t want the quest, it was just rammed all up in me. I’ll just keep the gold and ignore this jerk and his stupid jerky crap.

2) Continue it. Look, I’m probably going to visit Cheydinhal at some point anyway. He’s not asking me to storm some vampire lair or slaughter a bunch of party guests one-by-one in a deadly game of cat and mouse. He just wants me to look for a dude who looks like him in another town.

3) Return the money. Very tricky, as I can’t just give it back to him. The best I could do is buy something worth 50 gold and reverse pickpocket (ie: plant) it into his inventory. This would satisfy me as refunding his quest advance, but it’s risky. Nondrick’s stealth isn’t much to speak of and if I get caught fiddling around in Reynald’s pockets I’ll get arrested.

Ach. Damn it. If I find myself in Cheydinhal, I’ll ask around. But I consider the day ruined.

To make myself feel better I visit the castle. There I find Countess Arriana, who seems a bit self-centered.

I hate people who refer to themselves in the third-person. Sadly, even after some chatting and a bribe, she won’t discuss the idea of selling me a house. Again, Nondrick is simply not famous enough. Guess Chorrol will never be home.

She leaves a moment after dissing me, so I take advantage of the opportunity and plant my butt on the throne… I even put on my furry crown.

That little bit of frivolity marks the end of the day, and I head to bed at the Oak and Crossier. Of course, bedtime means it’s time to level up! Here’s a look at how our lad has grown:

Looks pretty good. The mixing, chatting, and selling have given me some nice modifiers for personality and intelligence, both of which I need to be a good alchemist and salesman. I gotta remember, though, that the rest of the outside world is leveling right along with Nondrick. If I’m gaining levels, so are all the beasties roaming around guarding those ingredients I’m going to be picking. And I’m pretty sure the monsters aren’t putting their points into personality.

I might be getting smarter and more charming, but they’re getting deadlier. The world just got a little more dangerous.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 15-16: The Grind

It’s ironic that the day after I decide to become an alchemist, I finally bring down my first deer. To be fair, though, the alchemy helped.

I’m out gathering far north of Skingrad, and I spot a deer nearby. I’d just picked up some nightshade, a deadly little flower, and I’d gathered some peony seeds earlier as well. Both share an alchemical attribute: damage health. I cook up the poison brew, dip an arrowhead into it, and creep as close to the deer as I dare.

My shot flies true. The deer is dealt double damage by the surprise hit and springs away, as they always do, but the poison works quickly. I see it drop a moment later.

Finally! I even get my arrow back. The venison isn’t worth any more than rat meat, which seems strange, but it’s more about the accomplishment and actually progressing in skill. Plus, I do need to eat. Look at me, living off the land. I’m all grows’d up.

I continue north, far north of Skingrad now, finding some new ingredients, mostly mushrooms. I slay a few lone wolves, pass some Ayleid ruins, and realize that I’m so far north that even by turning back, I won’t reach Skingrad until morning. I decide to press on. There’s got to be a camp or town or inn somewhere out here.

It’s nearly midnight by the time I stumble across a small settlement called Hackdirt. I find Moslin’s Inn, but it’s empty. Odd. Innkeepers usually don’t stray far from the front desk. In fact, most of them sleep right next to the bar in case they get late visits from adventurers or dorks in furry hats. The houses are all locked, so I wander over to the chapel. There I find a crowd of people. Midnight mass?

They are… less than polite.

I head back to the inn as instructed and wait around. Eventually, the innkeeper arrives and I rent a room for what’s left of the night, which is nothing, because it’s about seven in the morning by now. It’s pretty big, a suite, in fact, and I sleep until noon.

I visit the shop, which sells nothing but arrows and bear pelts, a little odd since the room is filled with crates and chests and should be teeming with merchandise. This Hackdirt is a strange town. Someone more adventurous should really investigate.

If they’re not selling, at least they’re buying, so I mix up what potions I can, sell the rest of my gatherings, and depart with about 100 gold to my name. Another settlement shows up on my radar shortly, someplace called Weatherleah. It’s a large farmhouse and it’s been trashed. The furniture is destroyed and there are human bones strewn throughout the place. This is kinda oogy, but as an alchemist I can gather bonemeal to use in my potions.

Even though there’s a bed in the place I can use, which makes Weatherleah an attractive free alternative to paid lodgings, the bones and skulls and dead roasted human body in a fireplace make this a non-option for the cowardly alchemist. I decide to leave. I take a skull, though. If I ever have a mantle, it might be cool to have a skull on it.

It’s quite foggy as I stumble upon some ruins named Wendir, though at least one thing is clear: I’m not going back to Skingrad. At least not for a while. There’s no house to be bought, I’m tired of the grape-centric conversations, and, for a boring alchemist Nondrick still has a bit of wanderlust. I’m close to the city of Chorrol now, it’s not far north of here, so I’m making that my destination.

I fight two wolves in Wendir, and win. And look, one even had a bone. Aw. Now I feel bad. I wonder if there’s a mod where I could have a pet wolf.

The fog turns to rain, followed by strong winds and thunder. Miserable weather. This YouTube link fails adequately to capture just how gross it is out. But you get the idea. Trudging along in the darkness, I come across Odiil Farm, but it’s locked up for the night. Luckily, there’s a Priory just up the road.

There are a couple monks inside. I bet a sopping wet alchemist banging on their door in the middle of the night is the most exciting thing that ever has or ever will happen at this totally boring and inconsequential monastery, huh? Poor dopes. Anyway, there are some beds I can crash in for the night for free.

Tomorrow, a whole new city beckons. Chorrol. Here’s hoping I’ll like it enough to stay.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 13-14: Mortar and Pestering

Before I can become an alchemist, I have something to attend to.

I head back to Colovian Traders, and sell my fancy duds back to Gunder. I let my brief success picking flowers go to my head. I’m not some wealthy fancy-pants merchant. I’m a simple dork with a bag of rapidly dwindling gold. I buy a simple brown shirt, some pants, and cowhide shoes to wear around town.

There. Simple, humble, and ready to start my career. I wander around the Mage’s Guild, hoping to buy a few things for my new start-up, but no one is selling anything other than spells. I eventually find my way to a shop called All Things Alchemical, run by the necrophiliac elf I met the other morning. I spend most of the rest of my money on a Novice Albemic and a Novice Calcinator, giving me two more tools with which to practice my new craft. It also leaves me with a mere 29 gold to my name. But, you’ve gotta spend septims to make septims.

I check out the rest of her mechandise, buying an apple, some beef, and a blackberry, all of which share the “Restore Fatigue” property. They each also cost 2 gold, so I’m down to 23. I already have an ear of corn, which I think I bought at the inn for lunch. I mix them all together and voila! I have a potion! That probably tastes horrible! And it’s worth 3gp. Okay, that was a loss.

I try again, with a couple of items I picked yesterday and one purchase from the shop, and mix up two “Restore Intelligence” potions. These are worth 6 gold each. I also decide to start haggling over the prices, and manage to sell each potion for 4 gold. I’m up to 30 again. I buy some Spiddal Stick to match some Nightshade I picked yesterday, which gives me a Damage Health potion, which I sell back at just a slight loss. Down to 29 again.

Well, buying, mixing, and selling doesn’t seem to pay off just yet, and gathering, buying ingredients to match the properties of my gathering, then mixing only works sometimes. I have an idea, though, of how this all might come together, but to put it into action I’m gonna need some cash. Time to hit the fields again.

I armor up and head northwest, finding flax, water hyacinth, peony, sacred lotus, alkanet, and even a couple pearls in some clams in a pond. Plus, I come across a weird stone that wants to give me something.

Sure. Why not.

Magicka bursts forward from the stone, enveloping me. I feel tendrils of unnatural energy claw at my flesh, snake into my veins, and clutch at my heart. I open my mouth to scream and the ancient eldritch power pours into my lungs like blood-red smoke and clouds my eyes with visions of a barren, blasted land ruled by a scowling Daedra Lord perched on a massive throne of charred, splintered bone. When the darkness passes, I find myself clad in brutal black and crimson armor, holding a massive spike of a sword in my two shaking hands.

I continue picking flowers. Yeah, I know I’ve got magical Daedric armor on and am carrying a deadly four-foot double-edged Oblivion-forged blade, but that’s no reason to change my plans for the day.

Not a bad day of collecting, either. It’s dark and raining as I head back into the city gates. (The magical armor and sword have since poofed back out of existence.) I mix up some potions from my collection, get a cheap room at the Two Sisters, and get some sleep.

In the morning, I’m back to the alchemist’s. I sell the potions I’ve made, and all my spare ingredients, and use the profits to buy her out of apples, grapes, onions, blackberries — everything cheap that shares the very common Restore Fatigue property. I mix up a ton of two-ingredient potions, and sell them to her. My alchemy skill goes up several times as a result, and I buy a Novice Retort, the fourth and final instrument of the alchemist.

I think I’m on the right track now. It’s not about profit so much at this point, it’s about becoming a more skilled alchemist. The more skill I have, the better my potions will be, and the more I’ll be able to sell them for. It’s not time to make money, it’s time to grind. Quantity, not quality — only two ingredients per potion instead of three or four.

Plus, all the buying of cheap ingredients and selling of mass amounts of potions will increase my mercantile skills, and boosting merchants’ disposition through conversation will increase my speechcraft skills. I’ll become a better alchemist and salesman, and more likable guy, all at once.

I head over to Colovian Traders, and do the same with Gunder, buying everything cheap he has, mixing up as many weak potions as I can, and selling them back to him.

I dash over to the West Weald Inn, buying them out of carrots, cheese, ham, pears, rice, and everything else they’ve got that I can afford. I slap together a huge amount what must be some truly awful tasting potions, and finally, for real this time, voila!

I’m still pretty broke at this point (54 gp) but I’m an apprentice alchemist! Now each ingredient has two properties I can use, which will make it easier to mix and match ingredients, and it’ll unlock more potent drinks, which will in turn sell for more money.

There are still a lot of questions in Nondrick’s life, but finally one has been answered. I’ve got a real, workable plan. Major in Alchemy, minor in Sales. This is how I shall make my fortune.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 12: Shafted

I awaken at 5am. It’s dark, quiet. The wealthy merchants who strut smugly around the city dressed in red or blue velvet are still fast asleep. This… is the time of the hunter.

And I… am a hunter.

Dressing in my armor, I ready my bow and a quiver of arrows, and depart, slipping through the silent streets. Stealthily. Like an oiled snake. Like a hunter. Because I am one. Then, well, I have to hang around the aforementioned silent streets for a few hours because it’s so early, the armor shop isn’t open yet, and I really need to buy armored gloves and leggings.

While I’m loitering around the streets — loitering the way only a hunter can — I notice a female high dark elf named Falanu peeping over a low stone wall around the corner. I go talk to her, like, in a real huntery way.

I don’t, but I do know where she could find an attractive single dead bandit hedge wizard.

The armor shop finally opens, and while they don’t have fur gloves they have fur greaves, which are like armored leggings. I fork over sixteen bucks, but in a way that is very much like a hunter. Finally, at half-past eight, which is a little late for being the time of the hunter but still, and I stress this, the tail end of the time of the hunter, I stroll out the front gate. To, uh, hunt.

I walk east, finding a graveyard or, as Falanu would call it, a singles club. I collect a few ingredients as I’m poking around in the woods, but it’s a few hours later before I spot my first prey, a deer.

Dropping into a crouch, or as I call it, a hunter’s crouch, I nock an arrow, take aim, and send my missile directly into the deer’s face. Even with my surprise attack doing twice the normal amount of damage, the deer springs away. I give chase, peppering the woods with arrows, but never score a second hit.

By noon I’ve traveled pretty far north and east, and haven’t killed anything. I’ve collected some mushrooms, but that’s not very hunter-ish because they’re pretty easy to sneak up on. I slip into a mild depression — call it a hunter’s depression — as I consider just giving up and heading back along the road to Skingrad. This hunter thing doesn’t seem like it’s gonna pan out. Rats.

No, seriously, rats. One leaps out of the grass and attacks me. This must be a rat cranked up on skooma because it’s throwing itself against my shield at a rapid enough rate to increase my block skill. Still, it’s just a rat, and one good swipe of my sword brings it down with a squeak, and I harvest the nearly worthless meat from its corpse. A few minutes later I come across a small pond, where I sneakily dispatch a second rat at range with an arrow. There, that at least made me feel more like a hunter.

I come across a wolf, wound it with a stealth arrow at range and finish it with my sword, then kill another rat, then come across some more deer, which I injure but fail to kill. They are really wily, those deer. And that’s pretty much the day’s hunting. A couple rats and a wolf, and there’s a deer with an arrow in its face somewhere. The ingredients I’ve gathered along the way are worth more than the animals I’ve butchered, and the hunting leaves me a few arrows short and my weapon and armor quality down a few pegs. I suck as a hunter.

Still, the day isn’t a total bust. On my sullen clomp back to the city, I meet another female high dark elf named Undena Orethi. I chat her up and she reveals a little something odd. (And she does have eyes, she’s just in mid-blink in this picture.)

I like stuff like this. There are tons of NPCs in the game and, like the necrophiliac and this tomato hunter, many of them have little personality quirks that keep them from just being another automated drone, walking their predetermined paths and saying their scripted lines. I mean, they are, but at least they have their own lines, and someone took the time to make this NPC stand out a little. It gets me thinking about what makes Nondrick stand out, apart from his giant stupid head. Not much, when you get right down to it.

I check the Oblivion Wiki, which has this to say about Undena: She is not involved in any quests and does not offer any services.

But I say nay to thee, wiki, for she has indeed provided me a service. She has inspired me. She is in search of something, she is on a quest, not one that involves clearing ancient ruins of monsters or finding lost artifacts or slaying vampires, but a personal quest.

While I’m keeping Nondrick away from the game’s formal quests, I think I’d like him to have a personal quest, something outside the boundaries of him just making a living and trying to find a home. Sure, he’d like to get freaky with one of these female NPCs but this isn’t going to happen due to the limits of the game, just as Undena will never find her perfect tomato because all of the tomatoes in the game are the same.

So, I want to come up with a personal quest for Nondrick, one he can accomplish or at least spend his free time pursuing. He needs his own grail. Nothing dramatic or adventurous — something more like a hobby. But, he needs something to go along with his non-adventure. He needs a side-non-adventure.

For now, he heads back to the West Weald, his hunting days over. Even if I do manage to bring down a deer or two, it’s time consuming, their meat doesn’t go for much, and I’ll probably lose several arrows in the process. Rats are easy to kill but their meat isn’t worth a lot, either. Wolf pelts go a decent price, but wolves attack me when I’m out collecting ingredients anyway, so there’s not much point in specifically trying to track them down.

So, a new plan is formed, or rather, a variation on an old plan I gave up on too quickly. The ingredients will be the key to my success, but not merely picking them and selling them. I shall combine them, mushing them up together in a little something the ancients called Iron Chef.

Wait, they called it Alchemy. And it’s time for Nondrick to be come an alchemist. A proper one. It’s time to put down the bow and pick up the beaker. And that’s the most exciting hook I can think of for the end of this post.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Ten and Eleven: Grapes of Wrath

A bright orange sphere signals that it is morning, but it’s not the sun. It’s Sir Dion of Beta-Carotine, the guardsman, standing in my room.

I’m kind of annoyed. What kind of scumbag walks into someone’s room while they’re sleeping, wakes them up, and has a little chat?

Oh, right. Right.

Anyway, Dion is kind of a dick. He warns me that Glarthir is crazy, and tells me to report any strange behavior to him or another guardsman. Then, he leaves.

It is at that moment I realize something truly awful. Before I went to bed last night I was rifling through my inventory and outfits and stuff, I guess I accidentally put on my stupid fur helmet and never took it off. So I was wearing it the whole time Dion was having his dramatic and pressing conversation with me.

That’s just great. He must think I’m an idiot.

At any rate, it’s somewhat satisfying to have this game, this world, so completely desperate to provide me with adventure that it’s actually breaking into my room while I’m sleeping in a stupid furry hat to offer it to me. And yet, I resist, as I plan to spend today strolling around doing nothing.

Which turns out to be pretty easy, because after the Dion incident, Oblivion seems to have given up on me. Instead of adventure, it feeds me a steady diet of grape-related anecdotes. Everyone I stop and talk to just can’t shut their goddamn yaps about grapes.

Okay, there’s a little adventure in there, but it’s mostly grapes. The exceptions are Dion, who I run into again, and who tries to pressure me into suggesting that Glarthir be arrested, and Glarthir himself, who is angry with me for not meeting him behind the chapel.

While I’m finding these Skingradians alternately extremely dull or fairly annoying, I’m still interested in seeing what sort of house might be for sale in town. After all, I don’t want to live in inns forever. I want a place for myself, to display my treasures, such as… well, I’ve got that wolf-fork, anyway. It’s a conversation piece!

I pick up a tip that I should visit the castle and speak to an Orc named Shum gro-Yarug if I’m interested in a house. I track him down and engage in the usual mode of chit-chat, in which I watch his face carefully to determine if he prefers being threatened, joked with, admired, or bragged to, and then engage in some combination of the four. Which is odd. I mean, if I know the guy hates jokes, why would every fourth thing out of my mouth be a joke?

It takes a lot of talk, and one cash bribe, to even get him to trust me enough to even mention the house for sale.

Well, okay, fair enough. I can accept that, but I think I should get my 12 septim bribe back, at least. Plus, walking slowly everywhere really eats up time and the day is almost over.

I head up to the bridge to see if I can catch a glimpse of Imperial City’s famed tower, which is said to be visible from every city in Cyrodiil. Just as it did in Anvil, the weather conspires against me. Fogged in, I can’t see far at all, in any direction. Especially the wrong direction.

Suckage. Depressed, I go buy myself another outfit. For clubbing.

I head to the West Weald Inn to show off my new duds, which appear to be flats and a dress. There I meet a woman named Else God-Hater. As advertised, she hates the Gods.

So noted. I also overhear a conversation between Else and a heavily armored elf regarding the hottest topic in of all of Cyrodiil. It’s on YouTube here.

Fearing Dion may burst into my room at the Two Sisters Lodge again tonight, I shell out a bit extra for a room at the West Weald. It’s a small room but it’s on the corner, which would mean something if I could see out the windows.

The next morning I’m up and sporting my fancy blue duds. I grab some breakfast (an entire watermelon, just for a change) and I decide, what with all the chatter about grapes, I’d better check out the vineyards before someone kicks down my door and demands I visit them. The vineyards, as it turns out, are not only full of grapes, they’re full of people who want to talk about grapes. It’s a real grape town, this Skingrad.

I notice a bit of a traffic jam as well. Looks like a bunch of travelers from the Crowded Roads mod I installed have gotten stuck behind a fence. I also spot the dead naked pummeled wizard lying in the road — dead and pummeled courtesy of Toutious Sextus, naked thanks to yours truly.

I do a little ingredient gathering, though I don’t pick any grapes. I could, easily, as there are tons of them and it wouldn’t technically be stealing, but as an NPC I am bound by a different code. Anyway, I don’t want grapes. I’m tired of seeing them and tired of talking about them. I head back into the city, kind of grouchy.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. This doesn’t help my mood at all. This douche is not only wearing the same outfit as me, he’s wearing the same hair.

I stomp away, back up to the bridge, to take one more stab at seeing the distant spire of Imperial City. Despite the weather being fairly clear, I still can’t see if from the bridge. Night is approaching, so I start back, but decide to climb a nearby hilltop not far from the bridge.

And there, in the fading light, through a gap in the lush trees, I finally spot it.

The White Gold Tower. The center of Imperial City, the meeting place for the Council of Elders.

You know, I don’t think I want to live in Skingrad, or even stay here much longer. I want to be there. In Skingrad, I’m a big dork in a little city. I want to be a little dork in a big city.

At the same time, I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes to make it there. Not yet, anyway. One thing’s for sure, I’m a little bored with walking around hearing about grapes. And I got an idea this morning, while I was preparing to stuff an entire watermelon down my craw.

The woman I bought the watermelon from also sold boar meat, and for a pretty penny, too. While I haven’t seen any boar, and probably won’t until I’ve gained a few more levels, maybe I should try my hand at harvesting something other than weeds.

Yes. Tomorrow, a hunting I shall go. A hunter… I shall be.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Nine: Man About Town

It’s a lovely yet somewhat hazy morning in a new town.

I stride purposefully through the streets of Skingrad, looking for a place to empty my bulging pockets. It’s been a long, troublesome trip, but it’s about to pay off.

I find Colovian Traders, a shop toward the north end of Skingrad. There I meet Gunder, a plump, leathery merchant, and through a careful combination of joking (“What’s the deal with all the wolves carrying forks, anyway?”) boasting (“Seriously, I’m the guy who found a fork inside a wolf”) threatening (“I will stab you with my wolf-fork!”) and admiring (“With hands like that, I bet you could put a lot of forks inside a lot of wolves”) I manage to make him like me more than he really should. Then, I sell him a bunch of crap.

I’ve got weapons and armor stripped from dead people, I’ve got tons of collected ingredients, a pearl I pried from an oyster, a silver pitcher, wolf pelts, imp-vomit… and he buys up every last bit of it. When we’re done, I’ve got a record 478 septims.

Almost 500 gold! Holy cow. Nondrick’s ship has come in. It hasn’t even been ten days since I stepped of the boat in Anvil with a dagger, a vest, and a couple of coins, and now I’m virtually rolling in dough.

Even better, I don’t have to immediately rush right back out into the wild, braving wolves and wizards, to collect new wages. I can take a few days off. Get to know the city. Make friends with the locals. See what it’s really like to be an NPC.

If I’m going to play the part, though, I think I’d better look the part. I’m a merchant now, a businessman, not some armored brute who makes his living with a blood-stained sword. Luckily, Gunder has a few outfits for the well-to-do merchant out for a casual stroll.

I buy this elegant blue number.

Hmmm… maybe a little too fancy? I don’t want to come off like a snob. So, I purchase this red outfit as well. Damn, I cut a dashing figure!

How Do I Look? Of course, I will have to venture outside the walls again someday, so I also buy an iron bow and arrows, which I’ve wanted since day one, and a fur helmet to match the rest of my stinky fur armor. It’s also pretty damn stylish on its own.

Hello, ladies!

With my purchases, I’ve still got 325 gold, enough for Nondrick to not have to sweat the small stuff for a long, long time. So, let’s strut his stuff on the streets of Skingrad for a bit.

The streets are pretty much empty with the exception of a beggar, so I decide to be proactive and simply start walking into people’s houses. The first home I find with an unlocked door belongs to a fellow named Lazare Milvan, who seems less than thrilled to find a velvet-clad ugly dude in his foyer.

He doesn’t actually throw down, but I decide to leave anyway. In the street I run into a city guardsman. Glarthir, the oddball elf who stopped me in the street last night, comes up as a topic of conversation, as the guard feels that he’s acting a bit strange.

That anachronism aside, I’m a little torn by this whole thing. The Glarthir issue, as you may already know or by now have guessed, is a bit of an… adventure. It’s part of an elaborate “quest” called Paranoia, which can have a number of different outcomes depending on how you handle it. When I played through it with my other character, I seem to recall it ending with, shall we say, the streets running red with the blood of a number of innocent townspeople.

While my other character reveled in the bloodshed (he was not a nice fellow at all), this is something I’m pretty sure Nondrick would like to avoid. Still, I’m trying to be an NPC here, and one things NPCs do a lot of is gossip. About news, about mudcrabs, and especially about other NPCs. It doesn’t really seem like I’m breaking my own rules by engaging in conversation with another NPC about Glarthir. Does it?

I decide to proceed cautiously. If he comes up in conversation, I may talk about him, I may not. But I won’t take any chances. I won’t get involved in anything exciting. This is my promise to you.

I stroll into Hammer and Tongs, have my shortsword and armor repaired for four bucks (a bargain!), and talk to the proprietor, Agnate the Pickled. As she is a drunk woman, I figure I’ll chat her up a bit, which pushes my speechcraft skill up a notch and thus, amazingly, prepares little old Nondrick P. Cairk’tir to gain a level. Level 2! Now I’m wealthy and experienced. Things are definitely going my way today.

I’m so happy I give a coin to the regrettably named Foul Fagus, a beggar, just before meeting a regrettably orange guardsman named Dion.

Uh-huh. Sure. Start out by suggesting I check out the wine and cheese, and then try to slip in some intrigue as to why the Count won’t be seen. Nice try, Dion, but you’ll have to do better than that to get me wrapped up in some adventure.

Then I run into the man who saved me last night, Toutious Sextus.

Well, I dunno. We could probably chat about that wizard you pimp-slapped to death last night in the course of saving my life? Guess not.

At any rate, since I’ve already met the guardsman and the beggar, I take the rest of his advice and visit the cathedral, to see if the priest will be my friend. The priest doesn’t seem to like me much either, and passes me off to a healer named Marie Palielle, who I find asleep in her bedchamber on the lower level.

This isn’t creepy or anything, is it? After staring at her for a while, I wake her up so we can have a chat.

She’s very pleasant to talk to and not as unattractive as most people in the game. She kindly suggests some activities I might partake in that don’t involve me standing over her leering at her while she’s sleeping.

But she’s nice about it, and I think she’s perhaps the friendliest person I’ve met so far in Skingrad. Things do get a little ugly when I end the conversation, wherein she threatens to call the guards if I don’t get out of her room, but as an ugly guy who barges into people’s homes, I’ve got to expect that kind of reaction from time to time.

I continue my wandering, chatting with a few more NPCs I run into, then head back to the Two Sisters Lodge for the evening. It’s a little lonesome for a bit.

Things pick up, though, and how could they not, with a handsome devil like me around? I simply sit motionless in bar for five hours and then the chicks come flocking in. Agnate, the drunk from the weapons store, and a woman from the Colovian Traders, Enja. Plus, the lady orc behind the bar. I’m swimming in girlies.

Drinks are imbibed, conversations are repeated, dispositions are boosted, and midnight finally rolls around, so I retire for the evening. First, though, it’s time to ascend to the second level. This is how it shakes out:

With my face, I’m gonna need as much personality as I can get, and with my fighting skills, I’m gonna need speed. To run away with. I’m not sure why my intelligence is given a boost, but it could be because of all the eating I do. Testing (eating) alchemy ingredients can help you become a better alchemist, and though I’ve only mixed a few potions, I am eating a few times a day, so that may be why it has such a high modifier. I am now more skilled at eating. I am a level two eater! Watch out, cheese!

And with that, I set my internal alarm clock for 8am and drift into satisfied slumber. It was a good day. I made money, I made friends, I gained a level, and I did it all without any excitement or adventure.

Or did I? Because I am awakened much earlier than 8am. In fact, it’s just past four in the morning when my eyes snap open unexpectedly.

There is someone in my room.